Illinois National Guard, ComEd head to East Coast to assist with Hurricane Irene aftermath
Chicago-area ComEd crews are lending a hand to their counterparts in Philadelphia in the wake of Hurricane Irene, while the Illinois National Guard is sending 160 of its own to New York.
30 ComEd crews departed Monday morning to join the 100 crews already deployed to the area. Martha Swaney, a ComEd spokeswoman, said it's common for the company to help its affiliates after periods of extreme weather.
"The crews that left last week were prepared to work more than one thousand hours on storm response efforts, and again those efforts will focus on repairs due to wind damage, downed trees, downed wires, downed branches, just to ensure that those facililties are restored," Swaney said.
As of Monday afternoon, 168,000 PECO customers were without power. Weather in Chicago looks clear this week, and ComEd says it isn't worried about the loss of manpower.
"I will note that the mutual assistance that we've offered to PECO and provided is not unlike the assistance that ComEd received after the massive storm that struck northern Illinois on July 11," said Swaney, noting that the crews for that storm had to be brought in from further away because neighboring areas were focused on their own damage. "PECO was actually among 400 personnel from 14 other states that supported ComEd's storm restoration efforts following the July 11th storm, and we're glad to return the favor."
Illinois National Guard troops are heading to nearby New York to help clean up after Hurricane Irene. The 160 troops are deploying to the East Coast indefinitely, while 1,000 who were on stand-by have now been told their services are no longer needed.
Mike Chrisman, a Public Affairs representative with the Illinois National Guard, said Illinois treated this as a "training mission."
"This is something typical that we've done many many other times; the snow storms February, the floods in May and June, and just recently this as well, so this is part of our job as the National Guard, to be ready and respond in case we're needed," Chrisman said.
Chrisman said the troops were sent to New York by the federal government, who looks at each state's resources, and determines how best they can assist, and that state funds are not being used. The governor's office says New York has agreed to reimburse Illinois for expenses related to the deployment.